A relatively modest fifteen or so Warts assembled at Fairholmes for an unusually early first Wartin' fixture of the 16/17 season - more typically falling (so the good Cap'n advises) on or after the Autumn Equinox. Perhaps Big Bob had forgotten this departure from tradition, failing as he did to turn up; but it was good to see a number of more senior representatives in attendance and moving well - notably Messrs Last and Dalton - and to welcome at least one newbie, I think, with whom I completely failed to converse. Fi, fresh from her brush with the Peris Horseshoe, was the only representative of the distaff side of the club - several others presumably moonlighting with Lucy in some reservoir - whilst Richard Bembridge made a rare foray out from deepest darkest Dronfield, as did tractor boy Ray (from Crosspool).
'Twas a pleasant, balmy evening, a tad too hot in all honesty, and we were treated to a fine sunset and finer still blood orange moon, as twilight slipped into night, and we finally donned our head torches in earnest. The route comprised an ascent of Pike Low from the south-west (ish), from where an early split was agreed, Andy, John and others heading around the top to Lost Lad, Howshaw Tor, and thence to the ruined cabin in Sheepfold Clough. Meanwhile, John Webber, Rich Hunt, Messrs Westgate and Holmes, variously led the rest of us down to the packhorse bridge then up to Back Tor - touching the trig at Dave's insistence (quite right Dave) - and onward via Howshaw to the cabin where we caught up again with our compadres.
Mr Holmes mounted a plausible defence of his general mountaincraft and navigational good sense without being entirely drawn by your correspondent, and in the end was one of only a select handful of experienced Margery Hill alumni to get the correct line to Hancock Pond, the majority of the party dropping way too right and blundering through boggy woodland to the reservoir track where I subsequently encountered Eoin bringing up the rear of the party.
The erudition in the Ladybower Inn thereafter (sporting a recent makeover of sorts), was most distinguished by the suggestion that we organise some kind of Dark Peak Paralympics race, to complement the Olympic race from Blackden, with categories open to, for example, the growing number of club members boasting a heart condition (naturally we would have to ban Mr Winterburn from taking part), or the visually challenged. We were also pleased to encounter an injured Moz in the same hostelry.
All in all a most satisfactory first outing of the season, a week early or not.